James 5:1-6 ESV
“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.”
To Whom This Applies
You know, this doesn’t have to apply just to rich people. Even poor people can use and misuse things and other people. Wicked hearts exist in both the poor and the rich. What is in people’s hearts is not subject to whether they have money or not. It is subject only to what they allow to be in their hearts and to what they choose to feed and to nurture within their hearts.
If people’s hearts are bent on evil it is because they choose to do evil. If they choose to hold on to their pride and to not humble themselves before the Lord, it is because of what they are holding on to inside their hearts. Selfishness breeds selfish acts. Lust breeds lustful acts. And anger and hatred breed bitter and spiteful acts towards others.
Lying and cheating are also not subject only to whether we have money or not. In fact, lying has become so commonplace in today’s society here in America, and within the gatherings of what is called “church,” that it is being accepted by many as the norm. It is just the way many people do business with others and how they function in daily living. Truth telling seems a rarity these days.
Love One Another
Yet, as Christians, we are commanded by God to love one another. In fact, we read in Romans 13:3 that we are to owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. See also Matthew 22:37-40 where Jesus summarized the law and the prophets into two commandments, to love the Lord our God with our whole being and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
But this is not human-based love which is dependent on how we feel. This love is of God, and God is love, and God is holy, righteous, morally pure, upright, honest, and faithful, etc. So when we love with this love we will exemplify the character of Jesus Christ. We will love even our enemies. We will love those who do evil to us, who sin against us. And we will treat others with kindness despite how they treat us in return.
So, when we love God and we love our fellow humans with this kind of love we will not cheat on them, lie to them, commit adultery against them, steal from them, and misuse and mistreat them. For love does no harm to its neighbor. And to love God means that we obey him. We don’t ignore his commands. So we can’t call it love if we willfully and deliberately and habitually choose to do evil and to sin against God and other humans.
The Cries of the Mistreated
When people choose to sin, they do not sin to themselves alone. Even if they feel as though their sin is private and that it is not against anyone specifically, and that others don’t even know about their sin, it does not mean that other humans are not impacted by their sin. For sinful acts come from within the hearts of humans. Evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness and slander come from what is stored up in the heart (see Luke 6:45; Matthew 15:17-20).
So, if these types of things are stored up in the hearts of people, these are the types of things that are also going to come forth from their hearts toward others, perhaps just in attitude, in speech, or in other behaviors. For we can’t love others with the love of God if what is stored up in our hearts is what is evil and not what is good. So if hatred, bitterness, resentment, pride, and selfishness are what is stored up within people’s hearts, these things are bound to affect how they will treat God and other humans.
And there are many people in this world who are being subjected to the mistreatment of others. And some of them have no choice in the matter, and they have no way of escape, while others may have other options but sometimes the options are not any better. For we can’t always escape mistreatment of others. Just by the mere fact that we live in this world and that we live among other humans, we are bound to face mistreatment from others, especially if we are following Jesus wholeheartedly with our lives.
But the Lord hears our cries. And he cares. And he is there to bring comfort and encouragement and hope to us. And he will give us all we need to endure unjust suffering at the hands of our persecutors. And what other humans may intend for evil, God will turn around for our good. For through times of suffering we are sharing in the fellowship of his sufferings, if our suffering is not due to any fault of our own but it is because we are obeying the Lord. And that should bring comfort and encouragement to our hearts.
The Wages of Sin is Death
But if you are someone who is storing up evil within your heart, and that evil is spilling out into your deeds, and you make sin against God and other humans your practice, please know what the Scriptures teach about that.
If sin is what we practice, and if righteousness and obedience to our Lord are not what we practice, then we do not have eternal life with God regardless of what confession we may have made of Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives. Jesus will one day say to us, “I never knew you. Depart from me you workers of iniquity (lawlessness)” (Matt 7:21-23). Please take this to heart!
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-32; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; 1 Co 15:58; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Heb 10:26-27; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 5:3-6; Col 3:5-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
Does Jesus Care?
1 Peter 5:7
Lyrics by Frank E. Graeff, 1901
Music by Joseph L. Hall, 1901
Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?
Does Jesus care when my way is dark
With a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades into deep night shades,
Does He care enough to be near?
Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.
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